If you have previously been convicted of DUI twice and are arrested a third time, you could be facing significant penalties if convicted. However, if you are in this situation, there are two very important things to note:

1. The penalties you face (including jail time) could vary depending on a variety of factors the court will consider.
2. An arrest for DUI does not automatically mean that you will be convicted of DUI.

In order for a drunk driving conviction to be considered a "third" conviction, the prior two convictions must have occurred within a 10 year period of the most recent arrest. A third DUI charge is a high or aggravated misdemeanor in the state of Georgia, and if convicted for a third DUI offense, you will be declared a “habitual violator” under Georgia law.

The penalties imposed for a third DUI are harsh and numerous. The mandatory fine for a third DUI offense is between $1,000 and $5,000 and the term of imprisonment is between one and five years in prison. The judge may at his or her sole discretion reduce these penalties, and he or she will be more likely to do so if the right mitigating circumstances are presented. Mitigating circumstances can include (but are not limited to): details about the case, the amount of time between arrests, and your personal characteristics that may make you more sympathetic in the eyes of the court.

The mandatory fine for your third DUI offense may be reduced to statutory minimum, or at least converted into a manageable payment plan, if the fine would result in a large enough economic hardship (your lawyer would present evidence to demonstrate to the court how the fine would result in a hardship). Another option for reducing the fine by up to one half of the mandatory level is if you voluntarily enter a substance abuse treatment program.

The minimum mandatory sentence of one year imprisonment may also be stayed at a judge's discretion. The law obligates, however, that you must spend a minimum sentence of 15 days imprisonment.

Additional penalties for a third DUI offense include a minimum of 30 days community service, enrollment in a DUI risk reduction program, and a mandatory clinical evaluation, which may result in court ordered enrollment in a substance abuse treatment program. (Another good reason to voluntarily enter a treatment program if you are in need of one).

Your driver's license will be revoked for five years and you will be given one year probation at the end of any sentence. Finally, you will be subjected to the humiliation of having your name, picture, and home zip code published in the local newspaper, at your expense.

If you have been charged with your third DUI offense, most of the penalties described above may be lessened if the right mitigating circumstances are presented to the judge.

If you have been charged with a third DUI, the path ahead may look hopeless, but there are many arguments available to reduce the penalties you may be facing. The state has imposed many severe penalties in order to appear tough on repeat DUI offenders. If you are facing a third DUI conviction, you need an experienced legal team behind you. Call my office today and let me and my experienced support team restore your hope. I can help find mitigating circumstances even in seemingly egregious cases. The very severe penalties for subsequent mean is imperative that drivers who are facing a third DUI conviction seek experienced, specialized legal representation. If you or someone you love is in this situation, please contact me. I have worked with many in this situation and will give your case the care and attention it deserves.